Since the nation’s founding, more than 55 million immigrants from every continent have settled in the United States. With the exception of Native Americans, everyone living in this country is either an immigrant or the descendent of voluntary or involuntary immigrants.

Every wave of immigration in the United States has faced fear and hostility, especially during times of economic hardship, political turmoil, or war.

The United States Constitution does not give foreigners the right to enter the U.S., but once here, it protects them from government discrimination based on race and national origin. Immigrants work and pay taxes. Many immigrants have lived in this country for decades, married U.S. citizens, raised their U.S.-citizen children and served in the military. Laws that punish them violate their fundamental right to fair and equal treatment.

The ACLU has been one of the nation’s leading advocates for the rights of immigrants, refugees and non-citizens, challenging unconstitutional laws and practices, countering the myths upon which these laws are based.

Immigrants’ Rights in Oregon

Oregon’s original Constitution protected only white males, both immigrant and native born. It gave property rights only to white foreigners, barred African Americans from moving to the state, and specifically prohibited African Americans and Chinese Americans from the right to vote. Between the 1920s and the 1970s, these various provisions were repealed.

In 1987, with the help of the ACLU and other advocacy groups, the Oregon legislature passed ORS 181.850 which prohibits local law enforcement officers from enforcing federal immigration laws that target people based on their race or ethnic origin when those individuals are not suspected of any criminal activities.

The ACLU of Oregon has been an outspoken critic of anti-terrorism measures passed since September 11, 2001 that unfairly single out immigrants.

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